Hampton Roads isn't Hollywood.
But sometimes, every so often, we act like it is.
Take, for example, last year, when Tom Hanks and friends came to Norfolk and Virginia Beach to film "Captain Phillips," a dramatization of the recent incident in which Somali pirates took over a U.S. cargo ship. That film is scheduled to hit theaters in October, and Hanks may be looking at an Academy Award nomination.
If you wanted to make a point of watching movies with local connections to the Peninsula and to South Hampton Roads, you would be able to see some really good titles. (You wouldn't even have to include the egregious sci-fi turkey "Virus," filmed in the waters off Newport News in 1997. It cost $75 million to make, and if we're not mistaken its box office grosses were about what it takes to fill your gas tank.)
Here are some of the films you could watch to celebrate our region's history on the big screen:
"Minority Report" – Steven Spielberg's futuristic thriller remains one of the most intelligent action films in the past few decades, with Tom Cruise starring as a detective who specializes in "pre-crime" – identifying those who are about to break the law, and arresting them before it happens. The climactic final scene, set in the remote home of the Cruise character's ex-wife, was shot on location at a private residence in the Gloucester area.
"The Box" – Another thought-provoking thriller, this time from cult director Richard Kelly. Cameron Diaz and James Marsden play a couple who receive a mysterious box and are told that if they activate it, they will receive $1 million – and one person who they don't know will die somewhere in the world. Moral dilemmas ensue. Some key scenes were shot at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton.
"Sophie's Choice" – Heartbreaking holocaust drama with gut-wrenching performances by Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline. It wasn't set here. It wasn't filmed here. But it is based on the novel by the legendary William Styron, who called Newport News his home.
"The Night of the Iguana" – John Huston's classic adaptation of Tennessee Williams' stage play. Richard Burton plays a disgraced minister scrambling to make ends meet, but more important, look for the outstanding work in a supporting role by Ava Gardner, who was born in North Carolina but grew up in Newport News.
For that matter, if we're talking about actors from Hampton Roads, there are several that you need to check out. We'll recommend the following films:
"Evan Almighty" – Filmed in locations around Virginia, but not in Hampton Roads. However, watch comedian Wanda Sykes (born in Portsmouth, educated at Hampton University) steal scenes from an all-star cast including Steve Carrell, John Goodman and Stephen Colbert.
"The Silence of the Lambs" – Frankie Faison, the veteran character actor from Newport News, has a small but important supporting role as Barney, the orderly who provides Jodie Foster with her first look at Hannibal Lecter.
"Now You See Me" – This year's film stars Virginia Beach actor Mark Ruffalo. You might still be able to catch it in theaters, but if you're looking for home video you could pick any number of titles, as Ruffalo has been quite busy lately – look for him in "Marvel's The Avengers" and "You Can Count on Me," as well as "The Kids are Alright" and "Shutter Island."
Summer Picks Series
Every Sunday in July, Daily Press Features staff members will share with you their best local picks for summer.
July 7: Music-related books.
TODAY: Movies with local connections.
July 21: Food blogs and online sources.
July 28: Staff picks on their personal can't miss summer lists.
Read the stories at http://www.dailypress.com